If you’ve decided it’s time for your business to become a paperless office, it’s important to have a time frame for making the leap. For many organizations, “paperless in less than 90 days” is a great achievable goal, as well as a rallying cry that gets your team on the same page.
But what would need to happen in less than 90 days to consider the initiative a success?
Focus Your Digital Office Efforts In Three Areas
- Capturing information: Documents come into an organization in several ways, such as email, faxes, mail and forms. Each of these points of entry must be digitized. As faxes and paper mail go by the wayside, there’s less of a burden in terms of scanning, but capturing email is increasingly important.
Creating a “smart inbox” allows people to quickly feed emails into the right channels of your system, whether that’s archiving it in your central document repository or using it to launch a business process. This ensures that the email is captured in a way that moves tasks forward, instead of piling up in individual email accounts.
- Routing information: Once information enters your paperless office, it needs to be routed through the organization. Here, the goal is to replace paper shuffling with streamlined digital workflows, with predefined processes for routing, reviewing and approving documents.
- Retrieving information: After the information has been routed, it needs to be archived in a way that allows for easy retrieval and managing access. You want to be sure your digital documents are captured, tagged and named correctly, so that they’re easy to find with a search.
A Paperless Office Example: Accounts Payable Process
As an example, let’s look at how this digitizing process would work in an accounting department. If your accounts payable (AP) process is largely paper-based, there may be several options for capturing invoices electronically.
- First, you could ask your vendors and suppliers if they’re able to send you electronic invoices instead of paper. Whether you’re receiving electronic invoices or scanning in paper documents, intelligent indexing or intelligent capture tools can use machine learning technology to automatically read files and extract the essential information, such as the customer name, invoice number, amounts, etc.
- Once that information has been captured, the office automation system can then use digital workflows to automatically route them to the appropriate queues for processing. This makes sure an invoice is routed to the right people for review in a predefined approval process.
- The final step is archiving the digital documents and accompanying data in the document management software's central document repository, already indexed for easy retrieval later.
The big win in this example is that you significantly reduce invoice processing time. Since the system is able to extract much of the important data, employees don’t need to spend a lot of time manually keying data into the index fields. And instead of having multiple copies of a document floating around, you have a single, authoritative record, stored in a way that facilitates anytime, anywhere access, which reduces the effort people must spend to manage files. With a paperless document management solution in place, you capture it once, process it once and store it once.
That’s just one example of what would need to happen to bring a department into a paperless environment.Setting a goal of achieving the paperless office in less than 90 days gives you an achievable quarterly target while helping to maintain momentum. And the sooner you reach that deadline, the sooner you start capturing the benefits of going paperless.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated for accuracy and new content has been added.
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